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Dear Ann Landers: I've read your column for years and enjoy the tributes you have given to organizations and individuals for jobs well done. You recently praised single mothers who raise their children without much help from dads. I would like to use this letter to polish a few halos.

I am speaking of the group I call "Mr. Moms." They are the single fathers who do it all -- and then some. I am lucky enough to know a few of these extraordinary men and feel privileged to count them as my friends. These guys have custody of their children. They clean, cook, do laundry, shop, attend school functions, help with homework, take the kids to the pediatrician's office, the dentist's office, pay the bills and drive miles to after-school activities and social events. They make sure to keep in contact with the ex-wife's side of the family so the children will enjoy all their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, which requires enormous diplomacy.

All this is done by men who work 40 to 60 hours a week. The men I know are construction workers who are out in the cold, heat and rain, and work crazy shifts. Yet they still manage to get everything done, and they do it with a smile and no complaints, and make everyone feel as if they are in the loop.

Please say, "atta boy" to these special people. They certainly deserve it.

-- Kathy from Kentucky
Dear Kathy: Thank you for the opportunity to pay homage to a segment of society that gets too little notice and not enough praise. Divorced fathers who raise their children are a special breed. The rewards down the line are enormous. It's a win-win proposition for everyone involved. I am pleased to give them all an "Atta boy," plus a "God bless."

Think inside the box

Dear Ann Landers: My 19-year-old stepdaughter has decided to end all communication with her father and me. This is not because of anything awful we have done. It is simply because she refuses to abide by the rules of our home, and so she has declared her "total independence." We were both stunned and hurt by her decision, which she declared was "absolutely final."

Here is my question, Ann. What should I do with all the stuff in her room? She has an assortment of toys from her childhood, presents from friends, clothes, mementos, and so on. She refuses to take our phone calls and has requested through her lawyer that she does not want to have any contact with us whatsoever.

I have considered boxing up the items and giving them to charity. We have a small home and could use the extra space. But I don't want to give away these things on the outside chance that she might blame me for destroying her childhood memories. Please tell me what to do.

-- Evil Stepmonster in the Midwest
Dear "Stepmonster": Assuming your husband agrees, box up everything and put it in the attic, basement or in storage. Notify the lawyer that this is what you are doing. The ball will then be in her court, and she must decide what she wishes to have done. This should not be your concern. It is hers. (P.S.: If you put her belongings in storage, let the lawyer know you will only pay for one month at the storage facility. After that, she will be responsible for storage charges.)

Problems? Dump on Ann. Write her at The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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